News of disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong's admission to doping while competing in the Tour de France has reached the halls of Congress, and Democratic Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer, chairman of the Congressional Bike Caucus, is devastated.
"It's not quite like when I found out there wasn't a Santa Claus, but it really is just very sad," Blumenauer told reporters near the House floor Tuesday. "It's horrifying. I just think it's a tragedy."
Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles last year and banned for life from professional sports. Armstrong reportedly came clean in an interview this week with Oprah Winfrey, being broadcast on Thursday, after years of fierce denials.
Blumenauer, an avid cyclist who wears a colorful bicycle pin on his suit lapel—and bikes to his office on Capitol Hill when Congress is in session—is perhaps Washington's most prominent cycling advocate. In 2005, he introduced a resolution to honor Armstrong after he won his seventh Tour de France title. The congressman used to hang an autographed Armstrong jersey prominently in his office, but he removed it when the accusations of doping became too prevalent to ignore. He still has the jersey, but it's hidden away with his other Armstrong memorabilia.
"This stuff just got too creepy," Blumenauer said.
At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney kept mum about reports that Armstrong had used the interview with Winfrey to admit to doping—but stressed that President Barack Obama “very strongly” disapproves of athletes using performance-enhancing drugs.
“The president feels very strongly that it’s inappropriate to use performance-enhancing drugs, and that any steps that any individual athlete takes or organizations take to reduce their use or eliminate them are good things,” Carney said.
Olivier Knox contributed to this report.